Hi everyone! In case you didn’t get the title reference, it’s a throwback to NorthernPolarity’s reddit headliner. But seriously, can you name a more iconic duo than DWD’s balance patch and nerfing random Justice draft cards? But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s go through the balance changes one by one and discuss the implications on the draft format. I personally think that Draft was already in a great place in terms of balance, and these changes are extremely minor.
Accelerated Evolution – Now 3TP (was 2TP)
New Rating: 4.5 (previously 5.0)
Previously the strongest rare in this Draft format, Accelerated Evolution took a huge punch in the gut due to the dominance of TJP blitz in the constructed meta. 3 might not seem like a huge increase from 2, but one of the reasons why Accelerated Evolution was so back-breaking was because 2 power allows you to double spell with it very efficiently, like going turn 4 Accelerated Evolution your 3 drop and play another 2 drop.
The nerf to 3 power makes Accelerated Evolution a much weaker tempo play. That said, Accelerated Evolution is still insane value because it turns two units into powerful threats and generate immediate value through the swing. I’ve put Accelerated Evolution down to 4.5, but it is still probably the best rare in the format, though it’s throne is no longer as secure as before.
Sheriff’s Hat – Now +3/+1 (was +3/+3)
New Rating: 2.0 (previously 3.5)
Previously a slightly worse Morningstar, Sheriff’s Hat received a huge nerf. The loss of 2 health meant this card is much worse as a weapon. It’s basically Ruination Sledge, except it costs twice as much and has a worse spellcraft. There is some argument that Justice has better weapon holders (Miner’s Canary, Silverwing Familiar, etc), but even compared to Justice buffs such as Master-at-Arms and Peacekeeper’s Helm, Sheriff’s Hat just looks so bad. Still though, it’s still a decent card, and while I won’t pick it highly, I won’t be too upset running it in my deck.
The question that bugs me though, is why did DWD choose Sheriff’s Hat as a nerf target. Changes to uncommons are much less impactful in draft given the lower frequency, and Sheriff’s Hat is a pretty vanilla weapon all-in-all. It just really feels like a very inconsequential change, but perhaps I’m missing something. I would definitely love to read DWD’s insight on why Sheriff’s Hat took the nerf bat.
Herald of the Parliament – Now 1/1 that gets +2/+2 (was a 2/2 that gets +1/+1)
New Rating: 3.0 (previously 4.0)
Now this is a much more understandable nerf target. Herald of the Parliament was the best uncommon of the set, and by a pretty decent margin as well. The card just did everything you wanted; a 2/2 flier for 3 is a ok tempo play and in the late game, this draws you a 4/4 flier as well. While in previous formats, a 4/4 flier for 8 is just ok (due to cards like Cobalt Monument, as well as a huge array of Flying enablers; Cobalt Acolyte, Skywalk Instructor, Freewing Glider), a 4/4 flier easily dwarfs most fliers in this format. The only cards that come close are Changeestik, Speardiver. Even the biggest Justice flier (Purgeleader), doesn’t line up well against a 4/4 owl.
And that is also why Herald of the Parliament is still a 3.0. Nerfing from 2/2 to 1/1 (ignoring the flavor text because it’s so rarely relevant) does little to affect it as a value play because the 4/4 owl remains untouched and a 1/1 blocks most things that a 2/2 blocks in the late game as well. The main hit is two-fold: 1) It becomes a much worse tempo play, but then again it’s rarely correct to run out herald on 3 even before the nerf. 2) Dying to random pings is the worst, though luckily the only real pings are Temper and Snowballs. I think that in the new format, even though Herald is a 3-drop, I would pick it as and think of it as a 7-drop, because simply running it out without Ultimating is just asking to get blown out.
Brand, Without Fear (created by Jawbone Greatsword) – Now 6FF (was 7FF)
New Rating: 4.5 (previously 4.0)
There really isn’t much to say about this change. The card was already great, and the reduction in the cost of Brand is a nice buff, since the difference between 6 and 7 power could easily mean coming down 3~4 turns earlier.
Ijin’s Choice – Now fast (was slow)
New Rating: 3.5 (unchanged)
This card got slightly better, since now you can use it to bluff a combat trick and hold it up to activate at the end of your opponent’s turn to “play” around sabotage from Back Alley Delinquent. However, in all honesty, this change is extremely minor, and is similarly reflected by no changes in the card’s ratings.
Shadowstalker – Now 3SS (was 4SS)
New Rating: 3.0 (previously 2.0)
Shadowstalker was previously understated for it’s cost, and only really worth playing if you have multiple nightfall cards. Now, its a 3 power 3/3, which is the expected rate for a 3 drop. Moreover, it represents the threat of 6 unblockable damage for every subsequent nightfall trigger, and the threat itself can often force your opponent to start chump blocking early or waste a silence on it (even if you don’t have nightfall in your deck).
The card also gets better in Nightfall decks because it’s tribute also becomes much more relevant. Nightfall decks are a real thing in this format, and this card is a great early pick since it does fine without Night, and becomes pretty busted in a Nightfall-centric deck.
All in all, most of these changes are relatively minor, especially since they are all on Uncommons or higher rarity. This tallies well with my experiences that draft is currently in a pretty great spot and the balance between factions feels pretty even. I really think that DWD has done extremely well with the curated packs and the draft experience has been great. What are your thoughts about the balance patch? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the reddit thread!